Lawmakers want update on sanctions against Russian gas pipeline

A bipartisan group of lawmakers is asking the Biden government for an update on when they will enforce sanctions on a controversial Russian natural gas pipeline in Europe after officials missed a deadline to inform Congress of their plans.

In a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken, two Republicans and two Democrats urged the State Department to briefly brief Congress on how it is approaching the Russia-Germany gas pipeline known as the Nord Stream 2.

The letter signals impatience on Capitol Hill with administration over the pipeline amid reports that companies have resumed work on the project in apparent violation of U.S. sanctions.

Under the laws passed in January on the veto of former President Donald Trump, the government had to report to Congress by Tuesday which companies involved in the pipeline project should be sanctioned. However, Congress did not receive the mandatory report.

In the letter signed by Texas Rep. Michael McCaul, Senior Republican on the Foreign Affairs Committee, Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio) and Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.), the government is asked to explain the status of the report.

When asked about the upcoming report to Congress, the State Department said it was not discussing its communications with Congress.

Washington and Berlin have been fighting over the pipeline for years. Chancellor Angela Merkel has insisted that it is a purely commercial matter that should not be subject to geopolitical or human rights concerns.

Nord Stream 2 would double shipments of Russian natural gas to Germany and provide German industry with cheaper energy if the country switched from coal and nuclear to renewable sources.

However, opponents of the pipeline, including US lawmakers from both parties and governments in Central and Eastern Europe, say the pipeline would leave Europe to Russia’s energy supply and economic pressure from Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“If Nord Stream 2 were completed, the Putin regime could continue to arm Russia’s energy resources in order to exert political pressure across Europe,” the legislature wrote.

Germany has rejected criticism of the project and called on successive US administrations to hold back from enforcing sanctions.

German media, citing leaked documents published by a non-profit environmental organization, reported Most recently, last year, the federal government offered massive funds to import liquefied natural gas from the United States in return for Washington enabling the Nord Stream 2 pipeline to be completed. The Trump administration ultimately did not support the offer.

The proposal is said to have been submitted by Federal Finance Minister Olaf Scholz to the former Finance Minister Steven Mnuchin, as can be seen from the documents of Environmental Action Germany.

In an obvious reference to Germany, the US legislature also wrote to the government asking for information on “any proposals that were made to the Biden government on the future of the pipeline to persuade the government to waive the mandatory sanctions or to weaken them. ” bipartisan support in Congress. “

Lawmakers said they are “ready to work with you to counter Russia’s malevolent influence, including by ensuring that Nord Stream 2 is never closed under Congress-enacted sanctions to stop the pipeline”.

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